Red Bull Racing team principal has hailed a successful ‘damage limitation’ exercise at Monza with a double-points finish at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix that consolidated its second place in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel finished fifth and sixth respectively at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza – a circuit which rewards engine performance – to finish as the best Renault powered runners behind the Mercedes and Williams cars.
Having been largely outperformed by teammate Vettel all weekend, Ricciardo finished ahead of the four-time World Champion by dint of pitting much later than his direct rivals. By contrast, Vettel was the first to pit, and consequently struggled for grip on fading tyres in the final laps of the race.
“I think fifth and sixth was the absolute optimum today,” Horner said after the race.
“We picked two different strategies, an aggressive one with Sebastian to undercut the McLaren, while with Daniel we took the opposite approach as he was in clear air.
“But fifth and sixth place, at a circuit dominated by Mercedes-powered cars, is damage limitation achieved.”
Horner was full of praise for Ricciardo’s racecraft, which included a number of demon overtaking moves as he took full advantage of the superior grip his fresher tyres afforded him. The Australian suffered a poor start from ninth on the grid and had to claw his way back from the midfield to claim a fine fifth.
“I think what Daniel did was truly impressive with some of his overtaking manoeuvres to get himself back into contention. I thought he really drove with precision. You didn’t see either of our drivers locking up and going straight on at Turn 1 or off track moments. I thought Sebastian’s defensive driving was phenomenal today [as well] and so I don’t think we could have asked for more from the drivers,” Horner added.
“Daniel’s overtaking has been one of his, for somebody that had a question mark over his overtaking coming into the year, he is right up there with the best.
“His start was shocking and he stuck his hand up and apologised that he didn’t get a good start. But then his recovery, particularly after his stop onto the prime tyres, was extremely impressive.”
Image via XPB Images